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IN 1862 . 


Late 1st Lieutenant Company A, 5th Mich. Ca\alry ' 


With CoiniAiments of 


114 and 116 N. Clinton Street 

Between Washington and Randolph Sts. 


Late First Licutcnant^Ccmpany A, Fiflh Michigan Cavalii 

Born September 15lh, 1836 

THE BOYS OF '62 TO '65 

I helped to raise a company to ^o with the Fifth Mich- 
igan Cavahy. I was to be First Lieutenant of the Com- 
pany. I went into Detroit with 117 men, a man claiming 
to be from headquarters told me to take my Company 
out about two miles to an old corn field. 

The next day several tents were sent out, also a lot of 
lumber to build barracks. I set my men at work and 
soon had a shelter for them. No person could dispute 
our right to be Company A. 

Soon other companies came and the regiment was filled 
up. Major Freeman Norwell was from the regular army, 
drilled the officers and they in turn drilled the men on 
foot. Soon our horses arrived, then we began clriUing on 
horse-back. It was fun to see some of the officers and 
men that had never ridden a horse try to stay on the 

About the last of August Colonel Smith was sent to us 
to see that all measured up in heights and then muster us 
into the United States service. 

Colonel Smith was about seventy years old, half blind, 
a short and very fat man. I had a large arm chair and a 
table placed near the front door as it was a very warm day 
telling the Colonel he would be more comfortable there. 
I had three boards put up about five feet from the back 
door and a soap box behind. I had about a half dozen 
boys that were from two to four inches too short so I had 
them stand on the soap box and the trick was not dis- 

The next day Colonel Smith swore us into the United 
States service. Just as he started a stranger stepped be- 
tween the Captain and myself and said he was to be First 
Lieutenant of our Company. The boys broke ranks 
immediately and refused to be sworn into the United 
States service. I stepped to the front and told the boys 
that I would take the Second Lieutenancy and told them 
to go back in ranks, that it would be all right. The inci- 
dent passed without further trouble. We drilled for 
several weeks. 

About the first of December, 1862, I received an order 
to take my Company and 400 of the horses of the regiment 
and go to Washington, D. C. (The order said an officer 
would be sent ahead to have a camp ready for us). We 
loaded the horses on the cars and got started about noon. 
I found I had an old worn out smoking car with not 
enough seats for all the men to sit down, much less to lay 
down. We had run about fifty miles when we had to 
side-track to let another train pass. 

I saw the fence was made of fine boards. I told the 
men to take off the boards but not to split them. I had 
them taken into the car, the men cut them long enough 
to lay across two seats. We turned every other seat over 
which made a lower berth for two. For the upper berths 
I had long boards placed on top of the backs of the seats. 
Several men slept in the aisle. I had one of the upper 
berths with the soft side of a board rolled up in my over- 
coat and blanket for a hair mattress and with my big 
cavalry boots rolled up for a pillow. This was the Pull- 
man sleeping car we had. 

The next day about 5 o'clock we reached Rochester, 
Pennsylvania, about 15 miles from Pittsl)urgh. We had 
to stop for the conductor to get running orders. Soon he 
came to me and said we had less than 30 minutes to make 
the depot in Pittsburgh. We ran ahead to see the engi- 

neer. I found him one of the finest specimens of a man 
I ever saw, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, about 35 years old. 
He looked as though he never drank liquor of any kind. 
His fireman was of the same stamp. I asked the engineer 
if he could do it. He said, "Yes." I told him to wait till 
I got on my car and not to start or stop too quick as it 
might throw my horses down. I ran and got on my car 
and gave the signal to go. We ran into the depot at 
Pittsburgh on the left hand track as the passenger train 
was pulling out on the other track. "SAFE." We 
stopped with my car in the depot. I called out asking 
where there was a yard that I could unload my horses to 
feed and water them. A man jumped aboard and told 
the conductor to pull ahead about 20 rods along side a 
yard. I called out that I had one hundred hungry men. 
Someone answered as soon as you get your horses cared 
for to come back and they would have a good hot supper 
for us up stairs in the depot. After seeing the horses 
well fed and plenty of water, we started on the run for 

Thanks to the good ladies of Pittsburgh ])oth young 
and old for a supper fit for a King. We went back to 
the yard and loaded our horses and soon started for Har- 
risburg. Here we found a yard where we could unload 
the horses and feed and water them, also the good people 
gave a hot meal to us for which we were very thankful. 
We soon loaded the horses and started for Baltimore and 
Washington. I expected trouble in going through Bal- 
timore, as our train had to be uncoupled and drawn 
through the streets by horses one car at a time. We got 
through Baltimore about one o'clock at night, hungry is 
no name for it. You must remember we were in semi- 
rebellion, no man or women old or young would give a 
Yankee anything to eat. Some of the boys found a lot of 
raw oysters in the depot, but I will let John Allen Bigelow 
tell the story, to whom I wrote for some pointers. 

Birmingham, Mich. 

Dear Lieut. Harris: — Yours received and mighty glad 
to know you are still on the job. I say stick to it. You 
ask if I can give you any pointers, will say, there are two 
items which I do not think have ever been dilated upon. 

When we arrived in Pittsburgh in looking over the state 
of the horses seven were found in mighty bad shape, some 
with legs broken, etc., etc. Percy Leggett came to me and 
said, "John, there is an opportunity to trade horses but 1 
am not an extra judge and want you to come with me and 
see to it that I am not cheated." Our train was shunted 
on a siding near a Government Corral where there were 
about a thousand or more horses and Percy, together with 
two others and m3^self took out our seven broken legged 
animals, turned them in the Government Corral and took 
out seven good horses in their place. You must remem- 
ber this was in the night and our train was being run on 
what they called WILD TIME, that is so as not to inter- 
fere with regular trains, and sometimes we would lay half 
a day or more on a siding which would give the men ample 
time to do several things. Then at Baltimore we laid 
over in the large depot and the men, in meandering around, 
found a large consignment of oysters. They were in boxes 
about two feet long and large enough to hold two dozen 
cans. Some unregenerated kuss picked up one of these 
boxes, put it on his shoulder and said ''Let's find some nice 
C}uiet restaurant and have our breakfast cooked." This 
was now just coming daylight and we finally found what 
looked like a nice respectable place. We went in and 
found the proprietor and wife just getting things in shape 
so we made a bargain with them to cook what we wanted 
and furnish crackers and butter for which we would give 
them twelve cans. Six of us had a fairly good fill of 

Very respectfully yours, 


Several other boys found the oysters and brought a l:>ox 
apiece into our car, and all the rest of us had a good fill of 
raw oysters, no crackers. It was just getting dayhght. 
Soon we started for Washington, forty miles away, where 
we arrived about nine o'clock the next night, hungry, cold 
and tired. We were run onto a side track about 20 rods 
outside the old Baltimore & Ohio depot. 

I ran into the depot to find the officer sent ahead to have 
a camp provided for us. He was nowhere to be found. 
After about an hour a young officer appeared and said 
we had better go out on Capitol Hill. I found a nice place 
about two miles east of the Capitol where there were 
several regiments camped. Not far from us was the 
Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. 

As soon as we halted I told the men to holler as loud 
as they could ''Rations, Coffee, Hardtack." Soon the 
Colonel and a large number of officers and men of the 
Seventeenth came over to see what the trouble was. I 
told the colonel about our fix. He told his men to go back 
and bring over hardtack, coffee and wood to keep us 
warm, hay and oats for our horses. 

In a short time we all had plenty to eat and fires to keep 
us warm, many thanks to the Seventeenth Penns^dvania 
Cavalry. The next day the government sent us tents and 
plenty of rations. 

With <'t)ini>liinent)< uf 



114 and IIG N. Clinton Street 

Between Washington and Randolph Sts.